Born in 1960 in Kisii, Kenya
Lives and works in Malindi, Kenya
For the first thirty years of his life Richard Onyango supported himself through a remarkable range of occupationssign-painter, bus-driver, woodcarver, carpenter, fashion designer, furniture maker, farmer, animal trainer. He was born in the western highlands of Kenya, near Lake Victoria; while he was still very young his family moved to the developing costal regions. His father worked for the Tana River Irrigation Scheme, and Onyango became fascinated with the signs of industrial development in the African landscape: trucks, tractors, bulldozers, planes, etc. As a child he recorded such impressions in a series of sketches he called photo pictures of whatever my eye could see. He has explained further, To keep things properly in mind I had to draw them since I didnt have a camera to record what I would like to put in memory.
These elements are still present in Onyangos paintings today. He frequently chooses to depict situations that waver between the exaltation of imported technology and its fragility. Accidents, warnings, calls for prudence reveal a world constantly threatened by disaster and the unforeseeable. Like many contemporary African artists, Onyangos pictorial language is characterized by its great legibility. Rather than evidence of primitivism, this legibility demonstrates the importance Onyango accords to representation as a means of direct communication. The unreal theatricality of his work similarly engages the spectator: the distortion of perspective and form and the moody tonality of the heightened palette dramatize the paintings relationship with the spectator, who in turn becomes a helpless or complicit participant in the events described.
This psychological tension is notably present in the paintings that Onyango dedicated to his relationship with Drosie. White and curvaceous, the young woman is represented in imaginary or real situations that compress all the fantasies that Africa projects onto the West. Whether depicting the couples alternating domination and submission or the fascination exercised by a life-style synonymous with luxury and wealth, Onyango succeeds in inverting stereotypes and denouncing their inherent violence.
SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS
One & Only Onyango, Gallery Watatu, Nairobi, Kenya
2009 - 2010
Africa? Una nuova storia
Complesso del Vittoriano, Rome, Italy
Laboratorio di Rochard Onyango
Atelier del Baglio di Stefano
Gibellina - Italy
Franco Cancelliere Arte Contemporanea
Franco Cancelliere Arte Contemporanea.
" The African Way of Painting " Richard Onyango
- Gallery of Contemporary East
African Art. Nairobi, Kenya.
- Fondazione MUDIMA.
- Salvatore Ala Gallery.
New York, USA.
One man exhibition
Malindi Art gallery.
- Artifico & Artefatto Gallery.
- White Elephant Sea Gallery.
- Wild Side Shop.
- Malindi, Kenya.
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
Ici lAfrique/Here Africa - LAfrique contemporaine à travers le regard de ses artistes, Musée des Suisses dans le Monde,Château de Penthes, Pregny-Chambésy, Switzerland
Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli
Arts of Africa
Monaco - France
African Art Now : Masterpieces from the Jean Pigozzi Collection
Museum of Fine Art Houston
Houston - USA
2004 (travelling exhibition)
Art contemporain dun continent
* 24 July 2004 7 Nov 2004
Museum Kunst Palast
Düsseldorf - Germany
* 10 Feb 2005 17 April 2005
* 15 May 2005 20 Aug 2005
Centre Georges Pompidou
* Feb May 2006
Mori Art Museum
Dreams & Conflicts
50th Venice Biennal
Nairobi Serena Hotel
Nairobi - Kenya
" La Tua Africa "
Monte Di Pieta.
Africa Nera Cuore Rosso
Museo di Rosignano Marittimo. Italy.
Neue Kunst Aus Afrika
Im Haus Der Kulturen Der Welt.
Seven Stories about African Art
Whitechapel Art Gallery.
Artisti stranieri in Italia
Umbertide. Rocca Centro per l'Arte Contemporanea.
Wild Life Clubs Kenya Competition
" TER "
- Contemporary Art Gallery
- Domus Jani, Istituto
Internazionale d'Arte Totale.
The Life and Times of Richard Onyango, Richard Onyango, Kwani Publishers, 2008
Exhibition catalogue. Published by Electa & Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli.
Exhibition catalogue. Published by TF Editores & FMGB Guggenheim Bilbao Museum.
Arts of Africa: The Contemporary Collection of Jean Pigozzi
Exhibition catalogue. Published by Skira Edition & Grimaldi Forum Monaco.
African Art Now: Masterpieces from the Jean Pigozzi Collection
Exhibition catalogue. Published by Merrell.
Exhibition catalogue. Published by Hatje Cantz.
La Tua Africa
Citta Di Messina. Monte Di Pieta.
Richard Onyango p.101-113.
" La tua Africa " Lucio Barbera, text in Italian p.13-32.
Adriano Parise Editore.
Neue Kunst Aus Afrika
Im Haus Der Kulturen Der Welt.
Contemporary art of Africa.
Onyango by Emmett Williams P.159-161. Text in English.
Edited by Andre Magnin & Jacques Soulillou.
Publisher Harry N. Abraams.
Kunst Aus Kenya.
Sieben Ostafrikanische Maler.
Richard Onyango p.34-40, text in German.
Bernd Kleine-Gunk. Graphium Press.
" The African Way of Painting ".
Book, texts in English, 130 pages.
Vehicules, Vessels, Trains & Planes
Afriano Parise Stampatore.
A Poem, A Novel, A Movie.
Illustrations par Richard Onyango, text in Italian, English and French, 60 pages.
Sarenco. Adriano Parise Stampatore.